How Much Does an Air Ambulance Cost?
The term air ambulance refers to any type of ambulatory transportation by air such as helicopter or airplane.
How much is it?
- On average, an air ambulance can range anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 or more. The cost is going to depend on the distance flown, the type of aircraft, the needs of the patient, and the current cost of fuel.
- According to this NBC News article, the average cost of an air ambulance flight is $12,000 to $25,000 per flight. The article also notes the following: The average distance between trips runs about 52 miles per flight, but the costs vary considerably. According to Craig Yale, the vice president of corporate development for AMC (Air Methods Corp.), “What you are paying for is the capacity to be able to respond.” While this leaves us with little consolation, it remains that about forty percent of medical patients who have required air transport must have some kind of private health insurance. Within this bracket, only about sixty percent of insurers pay full cost. Some insurers pay as low as $300 dollars, out of a $20,000 dollar bill. Other insurance companies allow payment installs, forcing a huge re-billing cycle.
- AirMedical.net notes that you should be prepared to spend at least $10,000 for a flight and sometimes, you may see quotes close to the six figure mark.
What is going to be included?
- Basic air ambulance services can obtain medical clearance through the local hospital; help book tickets and transport the family; arrange ground transportation upon landing; supply the plane with aeromedical trained personnel; and coordinate the entire transfer.
- Most ambulances are able to travel domestically and internationally.
What are the extra costs?
- Costs of an air ambulance can vary for a number of different reasons. The main reasons, however, include medical equipment that is stored on-board. This can include heart monitors, which can cost upwards of $10,000.
- Other costs include the price of around the clock medical staff. These highly-trained emergency doctors and nurses are paid to be able to operate in a moment’s notice; it truly is a matter of life or death in these high stress flights. These doctors and nurses also need specified training to be able to do their job in the air rather than in a hospital setting.
Tips to know:
- Each year, more than 500,000 patients are flown by means of medial helicopters or small planes.
- An air ambulance is ideal for those who need to travel more than 300 miles for specialized medical services. Sometimes air ambulances are also used for accidents that require the patient to go to a specific hospital, and get there quickly, in order to save his life.
How can I save money?
- If it is not as life-threatening of an emergency as some vehicle crashes and the like can be, which usually require an immediate air lift, you may be able to save yourself some money. If you can wait, there are opportunities in which a flight can be done in conjunction with another nearby flight. In the industry, this is called “back-haul.” Back-haul is a trucker term, meaning a driver is hauling cargo back from the drop off point, point B, back to the original point, point A. Since the trucker was headed in that direction anyway and cost of driving an empty truck is similar to that of driving a fully loaded haul, it makes sense to save money by just bringing the load along for the ride, which pays for the trip back for the trucker. This can be easily related to catching a ride on a medical flight. If a flight is already heading a certain direction with no passengers, they can stop and pick you up at a much cheaper cost to you. This is important to remember since the amount a back-haul can save you can be significant.
- Patients are able to refuse an air ambulance; however, if your life is at risk, money should not be a factor in making the decision.
- Check with your health insurance to see what they would cover if this situation were to arise. If you are looking to switch or browse new policies, consider looking through hundreds at eHealthInsurance.com. Most of the time, an insurance company will cover if it is deemed medically necessary.
- If choosing a flight on your own, be sure to get a flight as close as you can to your location; it also does not hurt to talk with at least three to five air ambulance services in the area to see what they are going to charge. If you do not want to compare prices, consider using a broker to help you find one.
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